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Bahrain enacts stiff laws against 'terrorism' before opposition protests

From Schams Elwazer, CNN
updated 4:56 AM EDT, Mon July 29, 2013
Legislators have cracked down on dissent, including banning protests, such as this anti-government rally pictured on July 5.
Legislators have cracked down on dissent, including banning protests, such as this anti-government rally pictured on July 5.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Legislators ban demonstrations
  • The opposition bloc has called for protests on August 14
  • New law includes provision for stripping Bahrainis who commit "terrorism" of citizenship

(CNN) -- Lawmakers in Bahrain have passed tough new laws for "terrorism acts" ahead of massive protests planned by the opposition next month.

The National Assembly, in a session Sunday, approved new penalties for those who commit or incite "terrorism," including stripping Bahrainis of citizenship.

Legislators also banned any demonstrations in the tiny kingdom's capital, Manama.

The anti-government opposition bloc has called for mass protests on August 14.

A dramatic escape from Bahrain

According to BNA, Bahrain's National Institution for Human Rights praised the efforts "to protect the Kingdom's gains and future generations and (face) the recent dangerous escalation that aim at pushing the country to unrest and political tension, which is contrary to the Islamic values and international norms, conventions and treaties."

But global human rights activists have denounced what they call appalling human rights abuses by Bahraini authorities, particularly in the past few years.

In April, Human Rights Watch said Bahraini security forces had raided homes and arbitrarily detained a number of prominent anti-government protest leaders.

Bahrain is an ally of the United States and home to the 5th Fleet, a large U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf.

Tensions in the kingdom remain high following the 2011 uprising, in which the majority Shiite population protested against the ruling Sunni minority.

The protests were spurred by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

But the demonstrations failed to gain the traction of other Arab Spring uprisings after a crackdown by authorities in the island state, backed by troops from nearby Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates under the banner of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

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